Owner: Extra parking won’t lead to expansion of club

Helistop will be used only for emergencies


Staff Writer

SEA BRIGHT — Item from the little-known facts department: Rozinante, the name that John Chimento has given to his corporation that operates the Sands Beach Club in Sea Bright, was taken from the name of Don Quixote’s jackass in the book by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

That tidbit tumbled out in the hearing before the Planning/Zoning Board on the application of Chimento, Michael O’Shea and Rozinante Inc. to subdivide a lot that lies between Ocean Avenue and the Shrewsbury River across from the Sands Beach Club on the ocean side of Ocean Avenue.

Chimento and O’Shea own the lot, on which a house formerly stood but recently was razed.

They have asked the board for approval to split it in half, 50-50, and give the southern half to O’Shea to add to the adjoining lot on which his home stands and give the northern half to Rozinante to add to the adjacent lot the corporation owns and uses for overflow parking from the Sands across the street. The lot being subdivided would thus be eliminated. Two lots would remain where three now exist, if the application is approved.

The application also asks for a variance for expansion of the nonconforming use for having a parking lot in the P2 zone.

The northernmost lot, which is used for overflow parking, also is used as a helistop. The late John Mulheren, the Wall Street wunderkind from Rumson, would helicopter from there for business appointments and private purposes. The helistop is still in Sea Bright’s emergency management plan.

Chimento, speaking for Rozinante and the Sands, told the board at its Sept. 14 meeting that he expected to gain an extra 10 or 15 parking spaces, 20 maximum, with the addition of one half of the lot being subdivided. The new lot, he said, would be 50 feet wide on Ocean Avenue by 107-109 feet deep going back to the Shrewsbury River.

The new lot, like the existing one, will have a grass and gravel surface, which is pervious, he added.

Chimento said he had no plans to expand either the beach club or the helistop with the addition of the half lot to the existing overflow parking lot.

“I have no intention of expanding [the beach club] in any way, shape or form,” he said. Asked if he planned to expand in the future, Chimento said he didn’t know about the future. If he wanted to expand in the future, he noted, he would have to come back before the Planning/Zoning Board.

But, he stressed, “I’m comfortable with it the way it is. My son is comfortable with it.”

As for the helistop, Chimento said he doesn’t plan to let anyone else use it, except for Sea Bright emergencies, now that Mulheren has passed away.

Chimento said expanding the overflow parking lot would not result in an increase in either traffic or of people crossing busy Ocean Avenue. He said it would be serving the same number of people as now — the club just won’t have to double park cars as much as now. He said cars are double parked in the lots on both sides of the road on days when there are large crowds.

Chimento said the overflow parking lot is available 101 days a year, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. He said the club fills the east side lot first, then opens the gates of the overflow lot. The overflow lot was used 48 times this year and it maxed out 10 times, when the club had to go to parking double.

“I think this year is fairly typical,” he said.

On occasions when the overflow lot is completely filled, he sometimes uses the lot of McLoone’s Riverside restaurant to park cars, Chimento continued. He said Tim McLoone, the restaurant’s owner, has an arrangement with Ship Ahoy to use that beach club’s lot when he has an overflow crowd, but when that’s not enough, McLoone will use the Sands’ overflow lot.

“It’s a gentlemen’s agreement. No money changes hands,” he said.

In response to a question from Thomas J. Hirsh, a lawyer representing Jim LoBiondo, owner of the Surfrider Beach Club, Chimento said his beach club parks 180 cars on both sides of Ocean Avenue before having to park in the aisles.

“We pack them in there pretty good,” he said.

Asked by Hirsh how many members he had, Chimento said he didn’t know. Pressed as to whether there were 500, Chimento said he thought it was fewer. He guessed the club had about 1,200 to 1,250 “warm bodies” — adults and children.

Chimento also told Hirsh, in response to another question, that he was willing to enter a deed restriction that his half of the lot to be subdivided remain open space.

But, he said, he can only speak for himself and not for O’Shea. He said O’Shea has wanted the property he would get for a side yard for years.

He confirmed that O’Shea has been living in California with his wife.

“His mom is a year-round resident in the house [next to the lot],” he added.

“Mike and I have been talking about how to dress up the lot,” Chimento told the board. “I think it will be an aesthetic benefit to Sea Bright.”

Turning to the helistop, Chimentosaid Mulheren, who died in December, was the sole user of the helistop, and he doesn’t intend to let anyone else use it except for borough emergencies. He said he thought it was used two more times immediately after Mulheren’s death to bring in people to attended his funeral.

“His wife has no interest in using it. I’m not interested in letting anyone else use it but Sea Bright,” he said. “I have been approached by some wealthy residents who want to use it, but I’m not interested.”

“A helicopter hasn’t touched down there since January,” he added.

Asked by Bonnie Johnson, who works at the Surfrider, about an ad she saw in a magazine touting use of the helistop for patrons coming to Elements, an upscale lounge in Sea Bright, Chimento said he thought that was because of the relationship of Mulheren and Jon Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi’s brother is one of the owners of Elements. “It won’t be used in that way,” Chimento said.

LoBiondo, the owner of the Surfrider, said he had a witness who said Chimento was going to rent the helistop out for Elements to get additional income.

“I would refute that 100 percent. It’s a lie,” Chimento said. “Bring it on.”

Peggy Lyford, of 786 Ocean Ave., the house on the north side of McLoone’s, said she had been terrified by the helicopters coming in to the helistop.

“It’s a residential zone, not a commercial zone,” she said in protest, expressing the hope that helicopters would not use it in the future.

LoBiondo also challenged Chimento on the length of his ownership of the Sands. Chimento had said the beach club was established in 1926 and he bought it from the third generation of the Sandlass family in 1975.

But LoBiondo maintained that Chimento only bought it from his parents 23 years ago.

Chimento said when his parents bought the beach club in 1975 he had an interest in it. In 1984, he said, he bought out his parents.

The hearing was carried to Nov. 9.